Washing Machines

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"Mum can I call you back in a minute?" I interrupted mum over the phone. "Or better still, can you check and get back to me via WhatsApp? I'll wait."

I was standing in one of the big electronics stores on Allen avenue, in Ikeja. I was there to buy mum a washing machine but she did not know it. She had finally gotten the quarters she had been applying for, on campus but that was the good news. The bad news is that its on the third floor of an apartment building, and I really cannot fathom how she would be able to go up and down those stairs easily. I was determined to ease her stay there somehow, and the one thing I was sure she would be happy to get is a washing machine.

She had called me a few minutes before, asking if I wanted her tailor to sew me (yet another) gown (insert eye roll). I was able to stump her by asking if she still had my measurements.

However, I interrupted the call because of what I heard beside me. Some guy had walked up to the washing machine beside me, followed by an old lady and two attendants. The guy looked undecided on which machine to buy and the attendants could tell. They were conversing in my native language, Yoruba, and from their words, they were determined to milk the guy for the biggest amount possible.

I pretended to inspect the washing machine in front of the guy closely, as I whispered to him.

"These ladies are going to make you spend a lot of money today. What's your budget?"

He blinked. He tried hard not to smile.

"Hello lady," he said loudly, "Please can you help me out here? I need to buy a reliable washing machine for this woman here."

I was taken aback my his response. I had expected him to play along and whisper.

"Hi," I replied, looking at the woman he pointed to more closely. She was crowned with a lot of white hair, and had a tired smile on her face. A glance at her hands showed them wrinkled and dry. I turned to face her and did a small curtsy. She beamed back at me and replied in Yoruba.

"Well done my child, how are you?"

Since I did not want the attendants to figure out that I was Yoruba, I merely nodded my head at the old lady and turned back to face the man, who now had a bemused smile on his face.

"What you can buy depends on your budget and the space you intend to install it in." I began.

"Would this do in terms of size?" I pointed to the one I had just selected before their arrival, an automatic machine with a limited span. As long as it could house the duvet, it was okay by me.

He described where it would be installed, while I emphasized the importance of getting water in and out of the thing easily without making a mess.

Minutes later, we all headed to the pay point, behind the two grumbling attendants, who were busy eyeing me and muttering in Yoruba. Their major angst was that they did not get to foist the most expensive machine on the man, since he had asked me for my opinion instead of them. They were also sure that they would not get any tips from him now because of this.

We met a small queue of people, but by the time it was my turn, I had had it with the attendants.

"What is wrong with you people?" I said to them in Yoruba. "Why are you not happy? Is it not a good thing that the person bought from the store? Do you think its everybody that is spending money they did not work hard for?"

For a few seconds, they stared at me with eyes wide open.

"I advice you to focus on making more sales rather than making a few people buy what they do not need." I added, before slotting in my bank card into the POS machine.

As I waited for the male attendant to get my own order from their storage, the man walked up to me. I assumed he wanted to thank me for standing up for him and saving him some money.

I was right, in a way.

"Thank you so much my sister," he said in flawless Yoruba. "Sometimes it makes me laugh the way I get treated in stores, but other times, like today, it saddens me."

My mouth dropped open.

"I would like to get to know you better," he added, in English this time. "That is if you don't mind. My name is Samuel Olalekan Adigun."

I could not stop staring. Mr. Samuel had long wavy dark brown hair, dark green eyes, and tan, Caucasian skin. I blinked rapidly, then shook my head.

"Olalekan?" I repeated.

"Beeni (Yes)" he replied, pointing to the old woman he had come in with. "Iya iya mi niyen (that's my maternal grandmother). I came to buy her that washing machine so she would stop washing with her hands."

I kept glancing from her, to his grinning face.

"Lekan!" the lady shouted from the counter. "O ti kan wa o! (It is now our turn)"

"Excuse me," he said. "Please don't leave just yet."

I could only stare at his retreating back.

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